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Movie Review

Paranormal Activity

MPAA Rating: R for language.

Reviewed by: Thaisha Geiger

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Moviemaking Quality:

Primary Audience:
Psychological Supernatural Horror
1 hr. 39 min.
Year of Release:
USA Release:
September 25, 2009 (limited—12 theaters)
October 2, 2009 (33 theaters)
October 9, 2009 (expanded)
October 16, 2009 (wide—760 theaters)
November 20, 2009 (wide—2000 theaters)
DVD: December 29, 2009
Copyright, Paramount Pictures Corporation click photos to ENLARGE Copyright, Paramount Pictures Corporation Copyright, Paramount Pictures Corporation
Relevant Issues
Copyright, Paramount Pictures Corporation

FEAR, Anxiety and Worry… What does the Bible say? Answer

Demons in the Bible

Satan in the Bible


DEMON POSSESSSION and Influence—Can Christians be demon possessed? In what ways can Satan and his demons influence believers? Answer


What is the Occult? Answer

THE OCCULT—What does the Bible say about it? Answer

Ghosts in the Bible


AFRAID OF THE DARK—How can I help my child to trust in God’s care when she is afraid at night? Answer

Featuring: Katie Featherston, Micah Sloat, Michael Bayouth, Amber Armstrong, Mark Fredrichs, Randy McDowell, Ashley Palmer, Tim Piper, Crystal Cartwright
Director: Oren Peli
Producer: Blumhouse Productions, Jason Blum, Oren Peli, Steven Schneider, Toni Taylor, Amir Zbeda
Distributor: Paramount Pictures Corporation

“What happens when you sleep?”

Sequels to this movie: Paranormal Activity 2 (2010), Paranormal Activity 3 (2011), Paranormal Activity 4 (2012)

Made with a meager budget of $10,000, “Paranormal Activity” might possibly be another massive box-office hit as the “Blair Witch Project.” With no theatrical trailer or even beginning or end credits, the film has mostly been spread through the web and by word of mouth. And with it being labeled “the scariest movie of all time,” the movie has an excellent chance of succeeding.

Micah and Katie are engaged and live together in a rather large house. Micah’s a day trader, and Katie’s a college student in hopes of becoming a teacher. It isn’t long before they begin to hear noises throughout their home. After consulting a psychic, he tells them that it isn’t a ghost, but rather a demon. Through his questioning, Katie reveals to have gone through paranormal experiences since her adolescent years. The psychic informs them that he is unable to help, but advises them to consult a demonologist.

Because of Micah’s hotheadedness, they delay calling the demonologist, instead relying on their brand-new video camera to catch any paranormal activities. They record their everyday activities and place the camera in their bedroom to record any suspicious activities throughout the night while they sleep. While I won’t give away spoilers, let’s just say that the demon does make his presence known in subtle and not-so subtle ways.

No doubt this is a mediocre movie. If marketing hadn’t so clever, this movie might have become a small cult hit. However, not using actual movie clips in previews requires viewers to enter the theatre blindly and with heightend senses of anticipation. The camera work is rather effective and realistic. Thankfully, the couple isn’t completely horrible with the filmmaking, so the camera remains pretty steady.

Any potential viewers should take note that the film depicts an average couple who seemingly go about recording their normal lives. With that said, the first half or so requires extraordinary patience, since the film moves agonizingly slow. When things finally pick up, it helps to relieve some of the boredom. Perhaps I’m too desensitized, but I didn’t feel “Paranormal Activity” was even close to being the scariest movie ever. The latter half of the film does contain a good number of genuine scares, but the rest felt long and drawn-out.

Offensive Content

While this is a horror story, the offensive content is mild, if compared to the modern gore that has dominated the horror genre. The film could have easily been rated PG-13 if not for the cursing. The “f” word is used over 35 times along with another 14 uses of profanity. The Lord’s name is profaned 11 times, including at least one GD.

There’s very little violence to speak of, and this is to the filmmakers’ credit. I will not go into the specifics in order to not ruin anything for potential viewers. There are no sex scenes or nudity. The couple briefly discusses sex and turn off the camera before sleeping together. It is then turned back on, and Katie is shown under the sheet.

Since the film deals with demons, an Ouija board is used in order to communicate, and a psychic is consulted. While these two things are abominations to God, they are accurately reflected with a reaping of horrible consequences. Micah was warned not to use an Ouija Board, since it would open a door and allow the demon to enter. This is wise, and there are plenty of verses that warn of completely avoiding evil. The Lord made it clear his stance of consorting with mediums and spiritualists. In Leviticus 20:6, God warned,

“I will set my face against the person who turns to mediums and spiritists…”

Scripture also clearly supports the existence of demons. While they are powerful, they tremble and are submissive to the name of Jesus Christ. In James 2:19, he wrote, “You believe that there is one God. Good! Even the demons believe that and shudder.” Aside from being a sin, consulting with mediums can be extremely dangerous for one’s walk with Christ since many mediums claim to believe in God. If a person claims to believe in God, yet also claims to speak with the dead, Christians should stay away. In Isaiah 8:19-20, it reads:

“When men tell you to consult mediums and spiritists, who whisper and mutter, should not a people inquire of their God? Why consult the dead on behalf of the living? To the law and to the testimony! If they do not speak according to this word, they have no light of dawn.”

I do not personally recommend the film. However, if you’re looking for a horror movie with very little amounts of sex and violence, then you might like “Paranormal Activity.” Please keep in mind that the film deals with true evil and demons. In addition, there is excessive cursing and profanity.

On a positive note, this movie is accurate in its disapproval of trying to deal with demons by one’s self. For those of us who have the Holy Spirit living inside of us, demons cannot touch us, since the only thing that has the power to truly rebuke them is the name of Jesus Christ.

Violence: Mild / Profanity: Heavy / Sex/Nudity: Minor

Demons in the Bible

DEMON POSSESSSION and Influence—Can Christians be demon possessed? In what ways can Satan and his demons influence believers? Answer

Is Satan a real person that influences our world today? Is he affecting you? Answer

See list of Relevant Issues—questions-and-answers.

Viewer CommentsSend your comments
Comments below:
Positive—“Paranormal Activity” is being touted by audiences and critics as one of the scariest movies they’ve ever seen. The claim immediately intrigued and made a skeptic of me. Could such a thing be true? I do not scare easily; I have watched many, many horror movies, and I can count on my hands the number of movies that have managed to scare me. But as the positive reviews kept pouring in, I decided I must see it. So I saw it.

Yes, it IS scary. Very scary. For those of you who have been searching in vain for a scary movie and have been disappointed and/or disgusted by the industry’s countless lame attempts, here is your remedy. There is very little violence in this film. There are very little gruesome images. And that is why this movie is so scary: because everything you see looks familiar. more »
Positive—First, let me say that I do not believe in ghosts. I love horror movie and I’ve seen the majority of horror movies ever made. The majority of the suppose to be “scary” movies, I ended up laughing or thinking I wasted my money. You can tell that Paranormal Activity was a very low budget made movie. However, this is by far the best and scariest movie I’ll seen. For all you believers in ghosts and those how claim to have had “things” happen to you, this is a must see.

I was very freaked out and it’s hard for you not to think about your own bedroom and the extracurricular activities that could go on without you knowing. The first part of the movie is a little slow but it explains a lot about the girl’s past with this “thing.” It picks up toward the end and in a big way! All I have to say is, “Really? The producers ended the movie that way?? WOW!!”

There is quite a bit of cussing in this movie and of course, ghost and demons. Not recommended for children.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Offensive / Moviemaking quality: 2½
—Leslie, age 27 (USA)
Positive—“Paranormal Activity,” from a Christian standpoint, is a truly disturbing and creepy movie. That said, it is also a well-acted horror movie. There is some foul language, yes, but considering the situation the couple find themselves in one can only expect expletives. Dark, demonic forces are not something one should play with and Micah all but begs the demon to interact with them. He taunts it, he calls it “worthless” and invites the presence to make contact through means of a Ouija board. The demon, which has been following Katie around since she was 8, kicks it up a notch after being heckled. Micha’s character does get a little annoying and infuriating.

As believers we have an understanding of demonic forces and we also understand 1 John 4:4. There is in no way, shape, or form we are susceptible to demonic possession. Non-believers on the other hand have a skewed view of the supernatural which is clearly depicted in PA and in Micha’s actions. The power of Jesus Christ is greater than any demonic force that Satan could ever dream of setting loose. We are covered by the blood of the Lamb and have assurance of our salvation. If you see “Paranormal Activity,” go in knowing, “He who is in you is greater than he who is in the world.”
My Ratings: Moral rating: Average / Moviemaking quality: 4
—Monique, age 30 (USA)
Positive—***spoiler alert!*** Personally, I think this movie is an excellent way to find out if somebody believes in God or not. Everybody who thinks God and/or the Devil is a farce found this movie retarded. Those who DO believe in God and the Devil have found this movie scary. Those who are familiar with demonic possession (either through secondhand information, the bible, or direct experience) have found it scarier still. But that’s not my main point.

Now, some would say it is blasphemy for me to write this, but this movie is the very reason why I am closer to God. Why? Because it more or less scared me straight. I never seriously dabbled in the Occult, thank God, but in my fourteen years as a Christian I have heard many powerful sermons and read many insightful articles and books from countless Christian authors on many fundamental topics.

But in all my years following the Lord Jesus, absolutely nothing has sobered me to the reality of demons and the necessity of our struggle against them the way “Paranormal Activity” has. NOTHING!!!

Before I continue, let me clarify, I’m not saying that every believer needs to see this movie because some will not be able to handle it. I should know, it’s been almost a month since I’ve seen this picture and now I can’t even watch the TRAILER without an overwhelming sense of dread and unease. And I don’t frighten very easily when it comes to horror movies, so that’s saying quite a bit. In fact, I find most horror movies unintentionally funny, but this one really messed me up, to put it lightly. But I am digressing. more »
My Ratings: Moral rating: Good / Moviemaking quality: 4½
—Tyke, age 30 (USA)
Neutral—If you wish to see “Paranormal Activity,” then by all means, please do. You may be disappointed or you may be tainting your britches. You’ll never know ‘less you stumble out the door yourself. And if you convince yourself your 7 dollars won’t be missed, you’re making the right choice in seeing it on the big screen. There, hopefully, you’ll have a large crowd, and by large, all I mean is the requisite ten or more heads. You and your best bud Joe Six Pack gathering around the flat screen don’t exactly comprise a “large crowd.” Trust me, your hard-earned deniro don’t just pay for a giant screen in your face—you’re paying for the experience of side commentary, shrieks, and random laughs. That’s something you can’t get from your rental in the red box or heaven forbid, your nifty pirated bundle.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Offensive / Moviemaking quality: 3½
—Mega Tron, age 23 (USA)
Neutral—I saw this movie last night. It started out slow. But once it got going, the viewer gets really pulled into the movie. This is a very disturbing movie concerning the hyper dimension of the unseen world. If your a believer with any type of spiritual discernment, you’ll come to realize quickly this isn’t a normal scary movie. When I got home, I had a feeling of nervousness as if I was being watched.

But then I was reminded of Job. How God had a hedge around him. This movie is a peak of demonize activity in a persons home. I was very sadden of how the demon tormented and drag that young lady out of her bed. Sadden because she called the name of her boyfriend to save her, but he couldn’t. I thank God for the same above every name, Jesus; in whom fallen angels and demonic entities tremble at the sound of His name. In my opinion, its more of a sad than scary movie. Sad how another soul was lost. Sad how the general public walk away from this movie as just a another scare movie unaware of how they are apart of a real battle of real demons in this war over their souls. If your going to watch this movie, pray first. Pray.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Very Offensive / Moviemaking quality: 4½
—Jean-Robert, age 25 (USA)
Neutral—I went to see this movie not quite sure what to expect. I felt the movie was very realistic in terms of how Micah and Katie interacted with each other. You could tell there was no real script, and emotions seemed pretty genuine. However, the real issue I have with this movie is not the ending, which seems to be gathering quite a bit of attention. No, I simply could not believe that despite everything that was happening to these two individuals in this house, NEVER once did they pray and cry out to the Lord. It’s a pretty safe bet that neither one was a believer, but you would think that being in a situation dealing with dark, unknown demonic forces, you would cry out to God. The only reference made about God is Katie clutching a cross which Micah finds and burns.

Well, regardless, the movie did NOT keep me up at night, in fact, to be quite honest, the ending was a bit cheesy, which is why I just could not take it seriously. I need to just stop watching these kinds of movies out of sheer curiosity and instead read my Bible more.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Offensive / Moviemaking quality: 3½
—Marcy, age 32 (USA)
Neutral—First, this movie was nowhere near as scary as all the reviews made it out to be. It has a few scenes that were a little suspenseful, but overall, it was so so.

As far as objectionable content goes, this is what I can remember-

Sex/nudity: in at least two scenes, the main male character wants to have sex with his girlfriend while filming but she won’t do it. However, he does turn the camera off, and then once he turns it back on makes comments that lets us all know what they’ve just done. Totally not needed. She also wears lower cut shirts which didn’t really bug me, but I know some may not appreciate seeing her cleavage falling out of her shirt.

Violence—It depends. If you watch the alternate ending on the DVD, there is violence.

***SPOILER*** The alternate ending has the girlfriend walk into her bedroom covered in blood carrying a really big butcher knife. She walks up to her boyfriend’s camera, stands there, and then proceeds to lift her knife and slit her own throat. Blood spurts out and she falls over. ***END SPOILER*** more »
My Ratings: Moral rating: Offensive / Moviemaking quality: 3
—Angelica, age 24 (USA)
Negative—This film is ridiculous. It isn’t scary. The “demon” seems to be portrayed as a bored child who has nothing better to do than annoy. What kind of demon needs to turn the lights on in the hallway to go upstairs then turns it off? If you know what a demon is and what they do, then this is really nothing. There are better ways to get a scary thrill.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Average / Moviemaking quality: 3
—April, age 23 (USA)
Negative—Bottom Line: not scary at all. Not a good movie at all. Do not waste your money. ALL HYPE!!
My Ratings: Moral rating: Average / Moviemaking quality: 2
—Hoss, age 46 (USA)
Negative—My teenage daughter saw this movie with friends for her 18th birthday, it was not chosen by her. She has not been able to sleep in her room for two nights! We have continuously had to pray over her specifically about what she saw. She said it is very demonic and not a movie for anyone, including non-believers. I trust her opinion, she wishes she would have walked out!
My Ratings: Moral rating: Extremely Offensive / Moviemaking quality: ½
—Carol, age 50 (USA)
Negative—A guy living with his girlfriend. Ouija. The evil force wins in the end. If you like those things, this movie is for you. But God doesn’t like those things. Oh, and by the way, there are F-words galore. You’ll have that word in your head all day.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Very Offensive / Moviemaking quality: 4½
Gabriel Mohler, age 25 (USA)
Comments from young people
Positive—First off, if you decide to see this movie, I would encourage you to try and forget all the hype surrounding it, especially the whole “demand it!” thing. What a silly way to get people to think they are involved. The commercials were a load of garbage as well, they must have given the college kids at those private screenings a ton of caffeine before showing them the movie. Anyway, I found this movie to be genuinely creepy, which is absolutely shocking. I haven’t been actually worried in a movie theater, ever, EVER, mainly due to the near scum-of-the-earth people (when it comes to being quiet in a theater) that attend movies in my town. I feel your pain, Mega Tron. However, even with half of the crowd yelling such ingenious phrases such as “aww **** nawwwww, (racial slur of some kind)…” every time 3:15 am rolled around, I was truly scared at a few points.

The filmmakers did a tremendous job of keeping a good pace throughout the movie (the haunting keeps getting worse and worse) and this pace is necessary to have a believable movie. Unlike the main reviewer, I think it was an intelligent move to start slow and let the fright build, because the ending would be completely unbelievable if the characters hadn’t been suffering from a downward spiral of sleeplessness and terror. That being said, the movie IS rather unnerving. I was seriously worried about what was going to happen in the last scene, especially after the “I think we are going to be okay now…” line. more »
My Ratings: Moral rating: Offensive / Moviemaking quality: 4
—krinking, age 17 (USA)
Comments from non-viewers
I did not see this movie, but 2 of my adult children and their friends did. They are all born again Christians. They were very disturbed and had trouble sleeping, as seems to be the norm for this movie. I am concerned that this movie is being seen by people who are not saved and their fears are indeed relevant. It seems to me that seeing this movie is not all that different than playing with an Ouija board. They are still looking into things that should be left alone, and opening doors that should be left closed.
—Brenda Stevens, age 49 (USA)
I have not seen this film and one may wonder why I would choose to comment and even give a rating on the movie as Extremely Offensive and Opinion as Negative. Simple, before the LORD accepted me, I have had the experience of seeing, touching, speaking to demons. After becoming a Christian, I have had the experience of speaking against and casting out demons. You see, before I was a Christian, my family and even I took part in foolish activities that welcomed demons into our lives. There are so many other ways of welcoming demons and “the unwanted” into our lives that we take for granted. Watching movies being one of many. Music, books and games being other mediums.

Why would one intentionally want/desire to watch a movie that has the potential to scare them? I could understand, it brings thrills and gets the adrenaline flowing. I know, I watched many such movies over the years. But curiosity kills more than just the cat, it can destroy the soul. The testimonies from the parents of children who have been so disturbed that they cannot sleep, is disheartening and disturbing. Kindly, please pray for them. For fear has now been instilled and fear is the evil work of the devil that works against faith. For GOD had not given us a spirit of fear, but of power, love and a sound mind. more »
—Paul, age 37 (Trinidad)